A brief overview of the Subject matter
This is a paper about Christian experience whereby students are required to follow the practices of a Christian congregation different from their own and give an account of characteristic theology and practice of the religion, the traditions it follows, as well as a concise description of the worship service as it unfolds in the chosen religion. There are various religious groups in the world such as Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, Sikhism, and Hinduism, among others. Even though some of these groups share a lot in common, they would tend to vary greatly in terms of their traditions and practices, among other common aspects (Placher 66). For this subject matter, I have chosen to explore the Orthodox Church whereby my experiences are based on the aforementioned requirements.
Identification of the chosen Christian congregation
This is an account of my day-long experience in an Orthodox Church known as the Holy Trinity Cathedral. We went there at dawn to join Vespers, and what I saw in the church was new to me, since I am raised with a little bit of Buddhism and am not used to rituals of any other religion. This was my first time being in an Orthodox Church, and I was confused about everything that happened inside the Cathedral, which seemed to be in contrast to the traditions and practices of my religion. This would range from how the followers conducted themselves inside the church, to the vast rituals or practices that took place throughout the worship period.
of the tradition
Before I get into the deep observation of my personal experiences in the church, I will first of all start by giving a of this particular religion. The Orthodox Church traces its roots back to the time of Jesus Christ and his disciples. However, the church together with its unique traditions and practices would come to reach its golden age in the course of the Byzantine Empire, which was taken over by the Serbian and the Bulgarian Orthodox churches before it continued to do well in Russia, following the instant fall of Constantinople.
The history of the Orthodox Church revolves around four main stages of development which include early Christianity, the Byzantine period, the Ottoman period, and the modern period (Hussey 89). Early Christianity would simply refer to the initial three hundred years through the early era of Constantine the Great. Also constituted in this age are the Apostolic and ancient periods. The Byzantine period, which began with the first Ecumenical Councils that amounted to seven, comprised of more than eleven centuries starting with the initial Council of Nicaea at around 325 to the Collapse of Constantinople in 1453.
The Ottoman period would kick off in the fifteenth century shortly after the Fall of Constantinople and would come to end at around 1830, marking the independence of Serbian and Greek from the rule of the Ottoman Empire. Finally, there is the modern stage, which as the name suggests, reflects the nature of the Orthodox Church in modern times. Currently, Orthodox-affiliated churches with the largest number of supporters are Romanian and the Russian Orthodox churches. However, the oldest of the Orthodox churches existing today would include the churches of Alexandria, Antioch, Constantinople, Georgia, Armenia, and Jerusalem. The highest concentration of the church followers is in Russia and in the former Byzantine Empire which constitutes Turkey, Greece, and other nearby countries. However, Orthodoxy has rapidly spread all over the world, whereby over 225 million people are said to have converted to the faith.
Characteristic theology and practice
As I would come to realize from my first experience in the cathedral, Orthodox follows a unique characteristic theology and practice. For instance, the followers would simply prefer to call themselves Orthodox. This description, however, originates from the fifth century, and it possesses two meanings that are closely related. The first meaning is on true teachings, whereby the church followers believe that they have retained and transferred the Christian faith from one generation to another, right from the era of Jesus Christ and the Apostles. The other meaning is the more preferred of the two and is about true praise. Through the latter, the Orthodox believes that the fundamental purpose of the church is to glorify, bless, and praise the the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Apart from the Bible, upon which Orthodox Christians attach great importance, the church also relies on the writings and theories of such as John Chrysostom, Gregory of Nyssa, and St. Basil the Great, among others. Other key areas upon which the church followers attach great importance would be in the right belief of the church and the conclusions of the Seven Ecumenical Councils. The Orthodox also observes that crucial religious aspects such as the truth should be experienced personally by everyone. However, there is minimal focus on the perfect meaning of truth in a religious context and more importantly on the personal and practical experience of the virtue in a persons life and the church.
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